Ecobears began life on February 29th 1996, as a combination of two passions: soft-toymaking and environmental interest.
In 1993 a man named John Parkinson made fabrics that mixed hemp with mungo (wool fibres obtained from cloth), and shoddy (shredded pieces of old cloth) from a company in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England. The hemp was grown by Hemcore in Essex, and they are still producing natural fibres to this day.
Around that same time I began making various accessories from hemp/mungo/shoddy mix materials for a few small companies. I made record bags, purses, rucksacks, coffee filters, juggling balls, ladies & men’s clothing, soft-furnishings and soft-toys…all great fun to make!
A couple of years later, I decided to work on my own, but concentrate in one area. Creating character bears seemed the best idea. So Ecobears were born from a combination of twin passions: soft-toy making and environmental interest.
Using a hemp/recycled cotton/wool mix fabric was most unusual at the time, making Ecobears the first bears of the twentieth century to be made from such materials. I was proud to be honoured with a Best Newcomer Award from The British Toymakers’ Guild.
I want Ecobears to encourage an awareness interest in the versatility of natural fibres. From its outer fibrous stem to its inner cellulose content, hemp makes products such as textiles, paper & paints. The seed oil is used to make bio fuels that run vehicles, and also provides a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids for nutritional benefit. The list of existing and potential products runs into the thousands.
Hemp is making a positive impact on society these days. Its fabric is one steeped in tradition. Burlap which was used to make soft-toys in the 1800’s, is a woven cloth created from hemp, jute or flax fibres. Ecobears are proudly helping to revive this tradition.
Eagle-eyed readers amongst you may have noticed that Ecobears’ official birth date is 29th February, 1996. So as 2012 is a leap year, this is a cause for celebration – because Ecobears reaches a grand old age of four in leap year terms. Time to get the pencil and card out to design a very special teddy bear to commemorate the occasion!